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NIDA. (2015, April 3). Scientists identify cellular basis of methamphetamine-induced aging . Retrieved from

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Science Highlight

April 03, 2015
Target to reduce methamphetamine-induced aging

Methamphetamine use is associated with many adverse effects, among them an accelerated rate of age-related disease. By examining profiles of lipids – small molecules that are vital for many cellular functions – scientists now know more about how methamphetamine use affects molecular processes that impact health.

Using cell cultures and an animal model of self-administration, researchers found methamphetamine activated pathways that involve nuclear factor κβ, which triggers an increase in levels of ceramide in various tissues of the brain and body. Ceramide is involved in inflammatory processes, and its overproduction has been associated with a variety of age-related diseases. Inhibiting nuclear factor κβ or other cellular mediators that decreased ceramide formation led to decreased methamphetamine-induced inflammation and cellular aging. These results suggest that medications that inhibit ceramide formation, such as nuclear factor κβ modulators (currently available in the clinic), may reduce some of the adverse consequences of methamphetamine use.


Methamphetamine accelerates cellular senescence through stimulation of de novo ceramide biosynthesis; Giuseppe Astarita, Agnesa Avanesian, Benedetto Grimaldi, Natalia Realini, Zuzana Justinova, Leigh V. Panlilio, Abdul Basit, Steven R. Goldberg, Daniele Piomelli; PLoS ONE; Published Online: February 11, 2015.